Amidst everything that Covid-19 has transformed dramatically, today Eid-ul-Fitr is top of the mind. As it brings the Muslim holy month of Ramzan to a close every year, it is usually celebrated with large public festivities. Images pour-over from all across India of people dressed in new clothes, congregating at mosques, embracing each other, and feasting together. But this year the Eid bazaars have remained without crowds, the mosques are empty and the community namaz has made way for prayers at home. From Kolkata to Hyderabad, the imams have called upon the faithful to maintain social distancing.
The Eid charity drives are the one activity that have picked up pace. Helping the underprivileged is of course a usual practice during the festival. But the need is so much more naked this time around. The annual zakat (charity) that is due during Ramzan is now called for more than ever, as it is not just the poorest but even skilled workers who have lost their livelihood. For the migrant workers stuck in the long passage home or in poor quarantine, new clothes are beyond reach and hunger gnaws. So this time there is a special community push to use the monies usually spent on shopping and buying gifts, on helping the needy instead. In the darkness of the pandemic the kindnesses of Eid shine brighter than ever.